Sunday 25 August 2013

Finding my inspiration and The Big Green Bookshop

So of all the bookshops in Britain, why did I choose The Big Green Bookshop first?

Quite simply because it was one of the places that inspired me to write this blog.

My Twitter feed had collected a number of bookshops, several of which I interact with on a regular basis and had often contemplated visiting, and thanks to a fun book quiz run by another shop*, The Big Green Bookshop had caught my attention.

Co-owner Simon runs their Twitter account and had proved a good quiz rival for this highly competitive soul, so I'd taken a look at their website and become rather impressed by their blog about setting up and keeping open an independent bookshop, and all the fun that happens along the way.

Obviously I wasn't going to just turn up at this or any of the other shops and say: "Hello, I'm a girl from Twitter." For starters I'm sure each bookshop interacts with hundreds, if not thousands, of people on social media and wouldn't remember little old me, and for mains I'm simply not that kind of stalker. However Simon's blog got me thinking, and one day my thoughts of a bookshop pilgrimage somehow ended up linked in with my reading and the next thing I knew I was writing my first post on this blog.

At the time I hadn't intended on visiting The Big Green Bookshop quite so soon, I thought I'd cut my teeth writing about the shops I already knew, eventually travelling to the places Twitter had introduced me to once I'd picked up a reader or two. But then people actually read that first post, with comments, recommendations, tweets, and even another blog taking up the cause and making me realise perhaps I'd better start off with a bit more than a trip to my local chain store. And so, earlier today I found myself on a train to north London...

As promised on their website, The Big Green Bookshop is just a five minute walk from Turnpike Lane tube station (Piccadilly Line). Fortunately for my useless navigation skills, you just keep walking in a straight line until you spot Brampton Park Road on the left, with a big sign for the shop to tell you you've reached your destination (once you pass the colourful fruit and veg stall on the corner, should you visit on market day).

Founded by Simon and Tim when the chain bookshop they worked for was closed, the shop has been a part of the Wood Green community for several years and has a fascinating selection of clubs and events listed on their website, including reading and writing and even a comedy night. I really do recommend giving their site and blog a read to find out more, I certainly wish I'd paid the events section more attention and made my visit in the afternoon to make the most of boardgames day.

Anyway, despite missing out on a spot of Carcassonne, my visit was no disappointment. The website describes the shop as 'an oasis of calm in the metropolitan madness', which made a lot of sense as I stepped inside after the colour and bustle of the busy High Road. The noise of the street could just about be picked up over the background music, but more as a gentle reminder of the outside world than a disturbance to my browsing, and I was soon lost among the rows of books.

Chalk boards label up the different sections, with the super, smashing, great section grabbing my attention. I'm a sucker for bookshop recommendations as they're the perfect introduction to something I've not encountered before, in this case The Princess Bride - how did I not know the film was based on a book? I read the recommendation, picked it up and started reading, and carried on reading until I realised that perhaps it was about time I handed over some cash.

Unfortunately I'd picked the day to visit when both Simon and Tim were off, but I still had a nice chat with the woman behind the till, finding out a bit more about the venture and work with children and, naturally, talking about a book or two as she looked one up on their ordering system for me. As for meeting the two gents, well I never said I'd only visit each bookshop once.

1 Brampton Park Road, Wood Green, London, N22 6BG
Tel: 020 8881 6767

UPDATE: I almost forgot, this is the blog post that really got me thinking.

*More on Say What You See later.


  1. What a wonderful post :) to be honest, I actually would show up at places and announce myself as being 'from Twitter', but other than that it's lovely that you let good-natured peer pressure decide where you would visit first!

    I can honestly say the concept of 'great', 'smashing' and 'super' sections would make me more likely to buy one of their recommended books - and the themed afternoons sound like a joy too.

    I'm so glad you found something unexpected to buy, and can't wait to hear about the next literary treasure trove you discover xx

    1. I'm impressed at the idea of just introducing yourself as a Twitterer, maybe I'll try that next time if I'm brave enough.
      And yes, any bookshop that quotes Jim Bowen in its recommendations wins a few extra points from me.
      Thanks for your kind words.

  2. BGB is a wonderful place. They have so many events and different methods of pulling people in. A real great shop. Their Writing Group every other Wednesday is always lively and enthusiastic. As for their 'Overnight write-in' for NaNoWriMo... something I wouldn't dare miss each year.

    If you're in the Wood Green area, (or hell, in the London area,) make sure to give this one a visit.

    1. I totally agree, I may not run a bookshop but I couldn't help but think how inspirational they are for all the events they host. The bookshop really has made itself a part of the community.


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